Past Exhibitions

Heartbeat: Music of the Native Southwest

September 29, 2013 through September 8, 2015

A celebration of sight, sound, and activity for visitors of all ages, Heartbeat: Music of the Native Southwest, opens Sunday, September 29, 2013 at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Over 100 objects relating to Southwestern Native dance and music will be featured, including a flute made by Grammy award-winning artist Robert Mirabal of Taos Pueblo.

Collectively used for indigenous ritual performance, the drums, flutes, rasps, rattles, and clothing featured in the exhibition convey a richly layered message. Music, too, is integral to the ceremony—it is more than accompaniment for the dancers; each song is a prayer providing a pathway to the here and now and to the worlds beyond.

Native music of the Southwest is still shaped by traditional cultural practices, as well as today by those powerful disseminators of American and World music, the internet, television, radio, CDs, and DVDs.

Curator Tony Chavarria (Santa Clara Pueblo) says, “For American Indian cultures—Southwestern tribes in particular—music has remained the heartbeat of sacred life ways for more than two thousand years. Music binds the earthly realms with their oppositional counterparts. Indigenous Southwest musicians express themselves through traditional forms as well as a wide variety of contemporary musical styles informed through their cultural basis.”

In the gallery, the sights and sounds of Native dance and music can be experienced in multiple interactive zones. Visitors can listen to the wide array of Native music being produced today, how different types of instruments sound, and view historical footage of dance performances. And make your own music in the Heartbeat Recording Studio.

Music is fundamentally interwoven into the everyday lives of Native Americans; continuing to bind the ancient cultures of the Southwest to their lands and life ways. Heartbeat: Music of the Native Southwest, through a Native curatorial voice, explores this enduring connection between the past and present.

The opening on Sunday, September 29, 2013 from 1 to 4 p.m. will feature performances, demonstrations, hands-on activities for the entire family, and refreshments provided by the Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico.

Opening Schedule :

1-4 p.m.: Drum making demonstration by Arnold Herrera (Cochiti Pueblo) in the Mural Gallery

Arnold Herrera is a 2011 Governor’s Arts Awards recipient. He is a master of several traditional Pueblo art forms. While best known as a drum maker he is also celebrated for his silverwork jewelry and red willow baskets, as well as his skills as a Keresan song composer, and traditional dance choreographer.

1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.:  Haaku’ Buffalo Group of Acoma Pueblo on Milner Plaza


1:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.:  Tewa Women’s Choir of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo in the MIAC Theater

The Tewa Women’s Choir from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo has kept the Tewa language alive by performing traditional and social songs in public venues for more than 40 years.

2 p.m.: Sihasin, Alter-Native Rock Music on Milner Plaza

Sister and brother, Jeneda and Clayson Benally of the Indigenous punk rock band Blackfire, are from the Navajo (Dine’) Nation in Northern Arizona. Their music reflects hope for equality, healthy and respectful communities and social and environmental justice. Sihasin (See-ha-szin) is a Navajo word meaning to think with hope and assurance.


2:30 p.m.: Talk: Overview of Native Music of the Southwest by Angelo Joaquin (Tohono O’odham), Ethnomusicologist in the MIAC Theater

Angelo Joaquin, Jr. has directed the annual Waila Festival in Tucson since 1989. Waila (why-la) is now considered the traditional social dance music of the O’odham with its roots in the desert of southern Arizona.

Ongoing from 1-4 p.m.: All-ages hands-on activity, cardboard drum decorating in the MIAC classroom